A new year message from the Executive Director

Dear readers of the EBU monthly newsletter,

First and foremost, I would like to wish all of you a very happy, healthy and successful New Year. Both personally and professionally. May 2023 bring many positive developments for the blindness movement across Europe! This is the time of the year where we are all making plans, sometimes even taking resolutions, but also looking back to what happened last year. I will not do this too extensively in this newsletter, but as the year ahead of us is going to be critical for our future, I am still going to say a few words.

2022 was obviously quite a challenging year for EBU. With the loss of our President and friend Rodolfo Cattani, a key figure of the movement for so many decades, the EBU Board had to reconsider again its composition until the holding of the next General Assembly. While I am, and I am sure all of us are, thankful for Wolfgang Angermann to assume the role of President until the end of the current term, The passing of Rodolfo highlighted yet again the urgent need to identify committed, capable and new leaders from within the movement to take things forward.

The 12th General Assembly, taking place in early 2024, will therefore be a decisive moment in the life of EBU. And this is actually not only true for the composition of the new Board, but it must also mark a renewed commitment to EBU, with a much clearer focus on certain priorities, a sense of ownership and togetherness. We have started to do so in 2022, but will intensify efforts this year to consult with all EBU members, in order to inject that new energy into the movement. I invite all of you to take an active part in this endeavour which will make EBU a stronger, more representative and more strategic organisation! Some of the challenges to be tackled along the way, are highlighted in our external evaluation of 2022, in which many of you participated and which the EBU Secretariat will be sharing with all of you in the coming days.

2022 also saw terrible developments at the geopolitical level. The Russian aggression in Ukraine left also many blind and partially sighted people without shelter, protection, access to basic services etc. Many of you welcomed Ukrainian refugees in your countries, set-up support services for them, and sent needed material to Ukraine. Thanks to your generosity, EBU could also support blind and partially sighted people, and some of their organisations in Ukraine as well as in some neighbouring countries. Just before Christmas, we were able to donate 15000 Euro to the National Assembly of Persons with Disabilities in Ukraine, the national umbrella DPO. With that support, they will be in a position to repair a shelter that was damaged by a bomb, provide daily life support to blind or partially sighted individuals in some of the hardest fought areas of the country, and also accompany people who lost their eyesight as a consequence of the war. This support to our Ukrainian friends will continue in 2023, always in the hope that this terrible war will end this year!

I could go on talking about many activities planned for this year or that took place in 2022. But I will not. In fact, this newsletter, our website and various social media channels, our annual report as well as special mails to all EBU members, provide updates on the many activities we are doing thanks to your continuous commitment and work. Again, wishing you a positive New Year and now please enjoy reading this newsletter.